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Keywords: laos | neutralist government | kong le |
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by Jorge Candeias, 12 October 1998
On July 12 the Washington Post carried a long article on former Gen. Kong Le of Laos (W. Post, 7/12/98, pp. F1, F6). Two Black and White pictures with the article show a flag hanging on a wall. It's described as designed by Kong Le for his "neutralist" Laos but "which has never flown in that country." Kong Le overthrew the Laotian government in 1960 but was himself driven out 4 months later. He had vowed to set up a Switzerland-like neutralist Laos in the midst of that Cold War struggle over Southeast Asia.
I've never heard of this flag before and so I'll try to describe the flag, since I don't know how to make a GIF. The article says the flag is "bright blue and white." Proportions look to be 2:1. On a blue field is centered a large white star surrounded by a circle of nine smaller white stars. A white stripe about 1/15 of the hoist goes horizontally across the center of the flag but stops at both sides of the area occupied by the stars (so that the width of the flag is about 1/3 stripe// 1/3 stars// 1/3 stripe). Above this stripe and below this stripe are a narrower white stripe separated from the center stripe by narrow stripes of the blue field. The two narrow stripes stop at the same point at which the broader center stripe stops.
Anybody know anything about this one?
Edmund Midura, 17 July 1998
I don't know about the flag, but Kong Le is a key figure of Laos in the period 1960-1970.
Kong was the commander of the parachutists, and was leftist. When the rightist were led by general Phumi Nosavan and took power (1960) the new king Setha Jatya (before prince Savang Wattana), successor of his father Sisavang Vong (4-Nov-1959) appointed as premiere Ku Abhay, who favored the victory of the rightist in a limited election (April-May 1960); the rightist Tiao Somsanith was appointed premier. Kong Le revolted 9 August 1960 and take Vientiane. Somsanith was deposed. The prince Suvana Vong left Vietnam (he was in Vietnam after the rightist victory, 24 May) and with his forces controlled the East and North of the country. The general Nosavan went to Thailand and with help of his uncle Sarit Thanarat (military leader of Thailand) returned to Laos and established his capital in Savannakhet. The king appointed the neutralist prince Suvanna Phuma as premiere. Novasan attacked Vientiane 18 September but the neutralists with the help of Pathet Lao and Soviet Union, repulsed the atack. A colition government was formed between neutralists, communists and rightists (18-Nov-1960). On 8 December Suvana Phuma deposed Kong Le from the army command, but on 9 December Kong Le deposed Suvana Phuma (who went to Cambodia) and the leftist minister Quinim Polsena was appointed premiere. But a few days later Novasan took Vientian and the rightist Bum Um was appointed premier. Kong Le, allied with the Pathet Lao, occupied more than half of Laos (January-March 1961) . After more that one year of negotiations and low intensity war Bum Um died 7 June 1962 and a coalition government was formed directed by Suvana Phuma.
On 27 November 1962 Kong Le was appointed chief of the new army (nominally the three armies of neutralist, communist and rightist) were merged in a national one.
The neutralist group was divided soon between neutralist-right (headed by Kong Le) and neutralist-left (headed by Quinim Polsena and colonel Deuane Sispaseuth). Colonel Ketsana Vongsavong, second of Kong Le was murdered 12 February 1963 perhaps by order of Sispaseuth. Quinim Polsena was also murdered, perhaps by order of Kong Le, and soon after after the police leftist chief colonel Khanti Visafanthong, second of Quinim Polsena. The ministers of the left wing of the neutralist, and the ministers of Pathet Leo flef to Khang Khay, capital of the Pathet Lao zone. The Pathet Lao and neutralist-leftists attacked the Jarros Plainure but Kong Le allied with general Novasan, repulsed the attack. The neutralist government was deposed by the general rightist Kuprasith Abhay 19 April 1964, but Suvana Phuma was reestablished afterwards under international pressure.
31 January 1965 Novasan and the young police chief general Siho Lamfuthacul (that collaborated with Abhay in the 1964 coup d'etat) headed a coup d'etat, but Kong Le troops defeated the revolt (4 February 1965) and Novasan and Siho flee to Thailand. Military rightist revolts in Thakhek (march) and Pakasane (April) were defeated.
In the elections of 18 July 1965 a new party emerged, the Youngs movement lead by Chao Sisouk na Champassak. Champassak was a kingdom, and the blue flag with white device was reported by a press report and later reconstructed by Lucien Philippe (that posted to me) and published recently in Vexilla Franciae and Gaceta de Banderas.
The rightist parliament was dissolved by Suvana Phuma 7-10-1966. The rightist sector of the army try to take the power. Kong Le was deposed. The struggle last until 15 November 1966, when Kong Le, leader of the neutralist-rightist sector of the army (and commander on chief of the army) was demised under pressure of the victorious rightist sector and left the country. The mainly neutralist sector of the army went to the Pathet Lao controlled zone.
In this time the ethnical Meo and Lao Thung were in revolt against the Phatet Lao (with help of USA) but their flags are unknown for me.
Jaume Ollé, 18 July 1998